Over the years, Western consumers have made Korean beauty shine, K-Pop artists have dominated the music charts around the world, and now fashionistas from the East Asian country are looking for stylistic inspiration. Before the 2020 recent times, Korea was the seventh largest luxury market, with the United States leading the way. This purchasing power inspired traditional brands to take root in Korea — and brought Korean fashion brands into the field of traditional style.
But before we go any further, let’s start from the beginning. In the 14th century, the politician and scholar Mun Ikjeom brought cotton to Korea, which allowed the creation of the Hanbok — the original Korean traditional clothing. Since then, harmonious, culturally rich and modern styles have prevailed. Confucianism is still linked to the DNA of Korea — The ideology lives in social ideals and has long influenced a cautious approach to Fashion. Fear and refutation of the past ideals of young people have given rise to a new wave of fashion designers who are trying to break the social and patriarchal values that have long been rooted in Korean culture.
Fast forward to the past year, and retailers such as Shopbop, Net-A-Porter and Ssense have put all K designers in the limelight. Twice a year, fashionistas look forward to Seoul Fashion Week with its avant-garde collections. The Concept Korea show at New York Fashion Week highlights K’s emerging designers and helps them market their pieces around the world. We can rightly say that the West pays more attention to the work of K designers today than ever, so it is advisable to get acquainted with the best in the industry. Buy the best of the show and remember: Korean Design cannot be put in a box.
1. Minju Kim
You may know Minju Kim as the winner of the first season of Netflix Next in Fashion in 2020. since the show, Kim has released a series of juicy collections and collaborations, all successful. Kim was born in Seoul and studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. The story of their eponymous label began in 2015 after winning the H&M Design Awards. After her success on Netflix, she created her second Mbary line in collaboration with the avant-garde South Korean fashion boutique Åland on her American site at The American Dream Mall. More recently, in March, Kim worked with the famous Scandinavian brand & Other Stories to make her designer clothes more accessible to Fans who love fairy-inspired themes, creativity and the designer’s attention to Craftsmanship.
His collections are based on abstract themes of inspiration, such as Edward with scissors hands for his HW21 collection and The experience of the spring season in the middle of a recent times for SS21. Kim’s sense of playfulness, adorned with bold details, runs through most of the brand, bringing her youthful spirit to Couture.
2. Hyein Search Engine Optimization
The creations of the Seoul-born designer Hyein Seo represent the active refusal to accept outdated patriarchal and conservative norms in Korean fashion. Seo provides a wardrobe for women who want to blow up glass ceilings and says to the face that she designs for “strong girls”, like villains and heroines in action movies, but translates it into real life with pieces that are both functional and subtly strong.
Although Hyein Seo was modeled for women, the brand has gained a fan base Of men who love The energy of the designer’s main character in her gender-specific pieces (Kendrick Lamar is a Fan). Holder of a Master’s degree in fashion design from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, the style of reference has always been bolder with current collections featuring sensual straps and bold cutouts on reinterpreted bases, from workwear to sportswear. Hyein Seo finds the balance between experimental and accessible in the form of high-end Streetwear with a attractive Fairy-Meets-Grunge charm.
Born in Seoul, Designer Rok Hwang worked for several years as a clothing designer at Céline (including Phoebe Philo in 2017), then designed for Chloé and Louis Vuitton before creating his own brand Rokh. Hwang grew up in Austin, Texas, before joining the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London in 2004 and earning a bachelor’s degree in men’s fashion and a master’s degree in women’s fashion.
Rokh’s journey began in 2016, but it wasn’t until Hwang won the LVMH special prize in 2018 that he gained worldwide recognition and debuted at Paris Fashion Week in February 2019. Rokh bridges the gap between basic and statement pieces with imaginative classics like a bunch of belts on a business suit. It was the connection of these parallels that brought Rokh to his faithful followers.
4. Reike Nen
Reike Nen was founded in Seoul and has been manufacturing niche shoes and handbags since 2010. Designer Rei Yoon Hong Mi is appreciated by an enthusiastic audience for her combination of classic silhouettes and modern details. Mi’s designs contrast The usual with the unexpected and use extremely simplified designs that are far from simple.
Precious Styles include 90s-inspired toe sandals, kitten heels and strappy silhouettes that stay as authentic as possible for Vintage Styles, with just a glimmer of modern New Age accents to feel perfect all the time. It is based on the motto “contemporary Refinement”, that is, The idea of being sublime, versatile and constantly growing. Reiki nen’s slightly nostalgic and minimalist aesthetic immediately attracted a swarm of fashionistas, going from a members-only shoe site to an international name. Most of the brand’s shoes and Accessories immediately add refinement and relaxed lightness to a casual Ensemble. Streamlined and impeccable, with none of Reike Nen’s timeless pieces, you can’t do anything wrong.
EENK is above all rooted in sustainable sewing. Designer Lee Hyemee wants to create collectible works of art instead of disposable clothes made by fast fashion companies—and her work achieves this. Hyemee is revered for creating classic Couture that dances with a dose of modernism and fantasy. EENK’s feminine but polished look is inspired by different eras and different aesthetics, with an emphasis on “feminine staples”, such as tweed jackets and pleated maxi skirts.
One of South Korea’s most popular artists, G-Dragon, praises Lee for her ability to “convey confidence and timelessness to young people through her clothes”. The acclaimed brand began with “The Letter Project”, where each collection is listed alphabetically, its first collection was B For Beanie, C for Clutch, D for Darling and so on. The brand will prepare Up to Z and end with A, for all and archive — although there is no statement about what EENK will do after that. For reference, spring/summer 2022 is U for Utopia, which is full of sweet pastels and idyllic Nostalgia.
Tibaeg was first launched as a T-Shirt project in 2011, but the success is no surprise. In 2013, founder and creative director Eunae Cho made her debut as a new-generation designer during the Autumn/Winter Fashion Week in Seoul, which boosted her line. Cho’s Mission was clear to her: to increase and maximize the beauty of her clients through unique and vibrant clothes that are fun. Its name is inspired by a tea bag and refers to the sweet taste and aroma, which allow herbs to quickly and easily penetrate into hot water and create something new with little effort. “I hope my clothes are the same. Every season they present a new collection with a different theme, but they continue the beauty of ‘Ti: baeg’, which is only completed when they are worn like tea bags,” says Cho in an Interview with Popspoken.
The designer sketches her visions of nature and brings them to life with bold prints and couture fabrics, while incorporating subtle traditional Korean details into her creations. Ti: baeg is consciously working towards sustainability and taking responsibility for what it means to be a brand in 2022, producing only as needed and using ethically sourced textiles. Ti: baeg embodies harmonious creativity with fun and playful clothes designed to make every day romantic, playful and special.